Falconer Chester Hall
A brand new student accommodation block clad in limestone is a worthy addition to the architecturally significant World Heritage site that surrounds Liverpool’s docks...
Liverpool architects Falconer Chester Hall were commissioned to design a 390-bed student accommodation and retail development on Byrom Street in Liverpool. The design was for two blocks at 12 and 14 storeys, joined by a bridge at the top level of the lower tower.
The site includes famous Victorian buildings such as the Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum just across the road. The World Heritage status of the area reinforces its historical value.
The building is a new landmark for the northern approach to the city centre as FCH architect Mike Gore reported: “The building occupies a prominent position to the North of the City centre, and acts as a high-quality ‘gateway’ landmark into Liverpool. Given the prominence of the site, it was key for us that we used a really good product that would make a positive impact and tie in with the other buildings in close proximity”.
natural stone facades
world heritage site
Mike explained how Taylor Maxwell helped at the pre-tender and planning stages; “We were looking for a natural or composite stone cladding system. We had worked with Taylor Maxwell before, so undertook some research on their website and came across the their kerf & restraint fixed stone facade system.
Their role initially was providing samples for the team to review, which could then be presented to the planning department once budgets had been agreed. They did this very well, informing us of module sizes and setting out the parameters of the system. This allowed us to develop the design and demonstrate that there would be minimal waste, which made the stone a cost effective option."
“A Taylor Maxwell facades specialist brought various samples in and we chose to run with Jura Limestone. For the building to echo the same architectural language as those surrounding it, we wanted to create slim horizontal bandings which could be read against the deeper and more open vertical proportions above, a feature the planners were keen to achieve.”
After FCH and the planners had been convinced that the stone facade system would work at Byrom Street, Taylor Maxwell assisted the architect’s discussions with the client/developer Watkin Jones to demonstrate the system’s suitability and cost-effectiveness.
“The planners appreciated what we had developed with Taylor Maxwell and the contractor could see it was a high quality product, however we still had to ensure it came within budget.” Mike explained. “Taylor Maxwell attended meetings with the client to demonstrate the system, and once we decided to run with the product they provided ourselves and Watkin Jones with the necessary information to work-up detailed proposals that could be accurately costed.’’
Sub-contractor Astley Facades then developed their proposals from the design intent that FCH created working in tandem with Taylor Maxwell.
Astley Managing Director Steve McGowan explained: “We used our in-house specialist design team to design the works using the parameters set by Taylor Maxwell and the architect.”
Steve’s team has vast experience of installing a wide range of facade and cladding systems. He gave his opinion on the stone cladding system: “It’s a fast, cost-effective solution compared with traditional stone, and an excellent system; Everything about it, the quality of the cuts, the mitred corners, the way it’s manufactured and the ease of installation. The system build up is user-friendly onsite and its appearance is striking.”
Taylor Maxwell attended meeting with the clients to demonstrate the system, and once we decided to run with the product, they provided ourselves and Watkin Jones with the necessary information to work-up detailed proposals that could be accurately costed.
Falconer Chester Hall Architects
More about our Natural Stone facades...
Do the stone panels fit in to the World Heritage zone? Gareth Roberts of client/developer Watkin Jones is in no doubt, “We are seeing now the fruits of our labour. The scaffold is starting to come down and expose the stone cladding in its true context and it looks really good. We’ve created an iconic piece of architecture that’s on a key route into the city.” Mike Gore agreed: “It looks fantastic. The facade has the quality aesthetic we were seeking and all the interface details appear well resolved. The contract is on programme so the client is satisfied too.”
Steve McGowan is also convinced the building has been a success: “It’s outstripped expectations. We are always nervous when we do a big stone job because you are relying on the quality of the cuts and the corners, but they were good and the Astley staff and installation teams we have used on the job have made it look absolutely awesome! The new building fits in perfectly with the existing natural stone buildings surrounding it in Liverpool.”
The project partners also agree about Taylor Maxwell’s customer service on the job. “It’s the best job we’ve had in the last year. It’s on programme, the pre-design completed by Taylor Maxwell and Astley’s has worked out, everything’s gone as planned.” said Steve McGowan.
“Taylor Maxwell are always there to solve any problems and always respond quickly if we need them.” Mike Gore added: “The service was very good and responsive. It was helpful receiving a physical mock-up of how the system would look for the client and the CAD details allowed us to work up the detailed design in-line with the contractor’s programme."
"We are happy with the end product, we pushed for high quality materials with some effective detailing from the outset and are pleased it’s worked out with this system.”
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